Alzheimer's Disease


Because life expectancy has been increasing over the decades, and because the incidence of Alzheimer's disease increases with age (approximately 50% of individuals over 85 have it), ever more people will be at risk. The tragedy of Alzheimer's is that all the sweetness of life dissipates and eventually falls into an abyss. Life demands alertness . . . and reason . . . and rationality . . . and sensitivities for our loved ones . . . with the nuanced repetition of ever changing emotional variation. Yet all this may be swept away into the tortured whirl of confusion. It is the brain on which Alzheimer's disease forecloses. Surrendering to a second infancy is no delight when the price is one's memory, speech paralysis, loss of the ability to smile, wearing diapers out of necessity, terror at every turn, and a survival rate of no more than eight years from the time of diagnosis.

It is hard to realize that, by the age of 85, incipient Alzheimer's may already have been taking its toll for 20 years or more. At least 75% of all senile dementia in the United States is thought to be caused by Alzheimer's, which, after cardiovascular disease and cancer, is the third-highest cause of death.

Even though Alzheimer's disease cannot yet be cured, some neuroscientists believe it is possible to stave off the symptoms by a decade or more, with the right supplemental care. Such a possibility would make active Alzheimer's as rare as it was when the average human lifespan was far shorter than it is now.

Although there is a controversial test for determining one's Alzheimer propensity, the key to deterring it is to start taking cholinergic supplements now, before the earliest signs appear. Also start now to take antioxidant supplements to slow the free radical damage that may accompany and exacerbate its progress. Start now to prevent the toll of insufficient acetylcholine, long before the near-inevitability of brain-cell death and the formation of amyloid fibers and mineralized plaques in the brain. Although the onset of Alzheimer's is slippery and hard to detect, scientifically proven phytonutrients and nutrient cholinergics can safely be taken and could be of substantial benefit.

Boosting the cholinergic system through acetylcholine precursors and cofactors (such as choline and Vitamin B5), acetylcholine agonists (such as DMAE), acetylcholine donors (such as citicoline), and, last but not least, natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (such as huperzine A) is the way to prevent many of the most devastating slings and arrows of cognitive aging from reaching their mark. There is no more important way to help preserve memory, focus, stability of mood, and personality. Here in the U.S., two drugs are FDA-approved for diagnosed Alzheimer's disease: tacrine and donepezil, both of which work by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase. Although they are able to improve cognitive abilities and quality of life somewhat, they are not without liabilities. The downside is the risk of liver toxicity (tacrine) and nausea and diarrhea (donepezil). At a cost of as much as $240 per month, both are available only by prescription. A superior level of protection can be had for less than the low end of these amounts.

Nearly 20 years of research conducted on thousands of Alzheimer's patients in China, in addition to studies at Brookhaven National Laboratory, The Mayo Clinic, Weizmann Institute of Sciences (Israel), and Georgetown University, suggest that the natural Chinese plant extract known as huperzine A is an ideal acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Specifically, the Weizmann Institute and Georgetown University studies show HupA to be more potent and specific in its activity than either tacrine or donepezil! No adverse effects have been reported by HupA researchers. So HupA really sounds like an intelligent choice, especially when taken along with the family of nutrient cholinergics.

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